Nostalgia can distort view of yesterday's agriculture
Looking ahead to this year's debate on the Farm Bill, one observor cautions against getting caught up in nostalgia.
In a column appearing in the Fort Collins Coloradoan, Frank Garry notes that society applies "favorable nostalgia" when looking at the history of agriculture and food production. Garry, a professor and veterinarian at Colorado State University, warns against exaggerating the value of the good old days and diminishing the value of our modern food systems.
"It's fun to ride in a one horse open sleigh, but the truth is that we enjoy our modern transportation systems. Much of our modern way of life hinges on the development of new technologies. Similarly in agriculture, we can enjoy the benefits of some food products produced by old and time-tested methods. But the majority of our food supply, including its abundance and convenience, is delivered using improved technologies, advanced farming methods and modern transportation systems."
Garry argues that while there are benefits to buying food produced locally and on a small scale, there also are benefits to buying from "alternative sources." Did you catch that? Garry identifies traditional agriculture as "alternative" sources to his Colorado audience. He continues:
"...Food production systems will continue to change in the future. Consumers will influence the development of those systems based on their choices and what they buy. Let's make sure that our food dollars and public policies support the development of food systems that we really want rather than the ones that we think we remember from yesterday."